Busi­ness of the month

Ruth Wood talks to two friends who trav­elled 12,000 miles to pur­sue their dream of run­ning a lux­ury B&B in France

French Property News - - Contents -

A château B&B in Deux-sèvres

When friends June and Patsy saw Château d’og for the first time, it was be­yond any­thing they had an­tic­i­pated. Sit­u­ated in the pic­turesque vil­lage of Fors in Deux-sèvres, with its tur­rets stretch­ing into the sky, the 19th-cen­tury build­ing was straight out of a fairy­tale.

The pair bought the well-es­tab­lished lux­ury cham­bres d’hôtes, near Niort, two years ago and went into busi­ness to­gether, hav­ing de­cided to re­lo­cate from New Zealand.

On ar­rival, it be­came clear the grounds were quite ne­glected, so ex­ten­sive works were un­der­taken clear­ing these, creating a smart drive­way, easy-to-main­tain gar­dens and an at­trac­tive ter­race.

Al­though June and Patsy had never run a B&B, they did have rel­e­vant ex­pe­ri­ence be­tween them in real es­tate, re­tail and hos­pi­tal­ity. In the short time they’ve run the château, they have achieved two ex­cel­lent guest re­view awards on Book­ing.com, high­light­ing the im­prove­ments they have made to guest ex­pe­ri­ences.

“Peo­ple want to re­lax and en­joy qual­ity time when on hol­i­day and Château d’og of­fers tran­quil­ity in a charm­ing lo­ca­tion and en­vi­ron­ment,” says June. “Of­fer­ing high stan­dards of hos­pi­tal­ity and ser­vice means guests leave feel­ing re­freshed and more of­ten than not re­turn to stay again. We tend to be busy from about April to Septem­ber/oc­to­ber, but it’s a pretty com­fort­able job for two peo­ple and you could eas­ily close down in the colder months and take a long hol­i­day.”

The château, a for­mer co­gnac dis­tillery dat­ing back to the 1890s, has four guest suites, all with en­suites – two with two bed­rooms and two with fam­ily rooms. On the ground floor is a guest lounge, lead­ing to a cir­cu­lar tur­ret break­fast room and a small kitchen. Ad­join­ing here is a self-con­tained two-bed­room apart­ment with its own ac­cess to the road and court­yard. This could eas­ily be used for guests who want to stay longer or as a short/ long-term rental in­de­pen­dent of the B&B.

The own­ers’ quar­ters are in a sep­a­rate part of the château, with a large kitchen in a tur­ret, a lounge and a bed­room. The semi-ru­ral French vil­lage of Fors is just a short drive from the su­per­mar­ket in Aiffres, while the city of Niort is less than 20 min­utes away.

Guests love visit­ing the Marais Poitevin (a nearby wet­land known as La Venise Verte or Green Venice), coastal hotspots such as La Rochelle and the Puy-du-fou, a pop­u­lar his­tor­i­cal theme park.

The friends are re­luc­tantly putting the château on the mar­ket, for €485,000, due to ill health; but they are sure new own­ers will love it and its charm just as much as they do.

“Château d’og is a long-es­tab­lished B&B with some great re­views,” says June. “When you live here all the time, you do start to take it for granted, but we are of­ten re­minded of how spe­cial it is, by guests who are sim­ply mes­merised by our château and its grounds.”

000 485, €

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